About the COVID19 RAPID Project
Frequently Asked Questions:
Who are you? Why did you propose this study?
Our team is comprised of Drs. Rachel Smith & Rosemary Perez, Iowa State University; Sarah Rodriguez, Texas A&M University-Commerce; Kelly Knight, Colter Ellis, & Craig Ogilvie, Montana State University.You can find out more about our team here.
We proposed a rapid mixed method study, involving surveying graduate students within our networks of universities about their experiences of support and reactions to a range of practices that their faculty, departments, graduate colleges, and universities have put in place during the coronavirus pandemic. We will conduct virtual focus groups to explore students’ experiences, reactions, and how these impact their graduate and career plans. This results of the research may help universities be better prepared for a future pandemic or similar global crisis.
How many students are participating?
Approximately 3,000 graduate students across 12 partnering universities. Actual numbers vary per institution based on institutional size.
How were the questions developed?
The experiential questions we developed are based on literature about grad student experiences, reports of current events, and grad school policies/practices reported about in the media and on institutional websites.
We also categorized support mechanisms based on the Council of Graduate Schools work.
What is your anticipated response rate? Is there an incentive for students to participate?
We anticipated a 10% survey response rate, yielding an analytic sample of 3,000. Student participants will be eligible for a lottery of one hundred $50 gift certificates. Students can enter the lottery by providing an email address in a form that is unlinked to their survey responses.
Will participating institutions be able access the data collected from their institutions?
No. No universities that participate in the survey will have access to the raw data. The data from the survey will be kept at MSU and will be analyzed by IRB-approved researchers at MSU and Iowa State University.
How will you use the data from the survey?
We will collect quantitative data and conduct virtual focus groups. Focus groups will explore students’ experiences and reactions in detail to find out how much these influence their career aspirations. Virtual focus groups will have a semi-structured protocol and serve more broadly to collect data in documents about university policy changes plus memos sent to students. These will be coded and connected to student perceptions and plans. These documents will enable the researchers to better understand students' experiences and contextualize the findings.
How do the focus groups work?
Virtual focus groups take place following the quantitative data collection process. We will host 5 virtual focus groups with ~6 students per group (totaling ~30 students). Focus groups will be approximately 90 minutes long and digitally audio-recorded and transcribed for later review.
Will participants in focus groups be compensated?
Participants will be compensated for their participation in a focus group with a $20 Amazon gift card. The focus groups will be conducted and analyzed by IRB-approved researchers at Texas A&M Commerce and Iowa State University.
Intellectual merit of the study:
Our goal is to understand what helps graduate students feel supported during a crisis. The current example is the coronavirus pandemic - developing this understanding now would provide a basis to guide leaders and administrators of Graduate Schools and Colleges in the future. Building on theories how individuals and communities respond to disaster, crisis, change, etc., as well as factors that contribute to resiliency, we propose a rapid mixed method study. We propose to survey students within the network of CIRTL AGEP and CIRTL universities about their reactions to a range of practices that their faculty, departments, and universities have put in place during the coronavirus pandemic. We will also ask how the pandemic has changed their plans to finish their graduate degrees. We will correlate students’ changes of plans with their responses to the questions on their perceptions of university practices. By collecting demographic information, we will disaggregate the results to examine if the experiences of under-represented graduate students were different than for majority students. For the qualitative research we will conduct virtual focus groups to explore more in-depth students’ experiences, reactions, and how these impacts their graduate plans. We will also collect documents about university policy changes plus memos sent to students, code these, and correlate them with student perceptions and plans. This mixed-methods study will therefore investigate the varying institutional actions, how the students perceived those actions, students' interactions with departments and faculty/advisors, and how these all correlate with student plans.
The real Champ.
This research will provide a basis for leaders and administrators of Graduate Schools and Colleges about how to best support the broadest range of graduate students in future crises.